We live in a hyper politically correct society where people do not say what they mean. Even fewer people are willing to go against the grain, and give an unpopular opinion. So it is a relief when you find someone who is willing to do so. Hip-hop personality Taxstone is someone who does not ever hold his tongue. Taxstone's real and uncut rawness is a breath of fresh air to his listeners. His fans eagerly wait each Wednesday to hear a new episode of his podcast titled Tax Season. Recently I spoke with him a bit before he did a recording with Russell Simmons, and he had a great story to tell.
Taxstone, whose real name is Daryl Campbell hails from Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in East New York in one of the roughest areas of the city. He jokingly talks about the aggressive drug addicts of his youth who were scary compared to the slow moving ones of today. The humor with which he tells stories like this let you know this is a man who has had life experiences most only see in movies.
He was a smart student growing up who learned fast. Being ahead of other students in class led to boredom. And that boredom led to trouble. Trouble in the neighborhood he grew up in led to jail time. He casually talks about how he spent his 20s in jail. At the young age of 30 he comes off as one of the hood's elder spokesman. He has a charisma rarely seen in people. When he speaks the entire room looks at him awaiting his next words. Sometimes he talks about serious things, but he is also a practical joker so he is always making people laugh.
A Twitter personality who is one of the faces of Black Twitter, Taxstone has had a following for years. The TV and radio personality Charlamagne Tha God caught wind of Taxstone through social media. Charlamagne hosts on Power 105.1's morning show The Breakfast Club. He is also the co-host of his own podcast Brilliant Idiots, and a producer at MTV. Charlamagne asked Taxstone to come on for an episode not knowing what to expect, but the reaction to the episode was very positive. Fans asked for Taxstone to have his own show. Through The Loud Speakers Network, Taxstone got his own showed titled Tax Season that aired in March of 2015, and it was a breakout hit.
Using his understanding of the Internet Taxstone has helped break various artists in the music scene. There is a concept in the music world called an A&R. It stands for artists and repertoire. It is the part of a record label that does the talent scouting. A&Rs also oversee artistic development for recording artists and songwriters. Since social media became popular the idea of an A&R has been in shambles. Artists typically make themselves popular on the Internet first. Then they go into record labels to get their deals. But the concept of an A&R in the streets still exists, and Taxstone is leading the movement. Time after time the artists he picks as the next ones up are succeeding in the mainstream. A few of the artists he's picked in the past were Bobby Shmurda, 2 Milly, Dave East, Manolo Rose, and PNB Rock. Each artist has had a radio hit and have careers on the rise. Most recently he was talking about an artist from Brooklyn named Desiigner on Twitter before anyone else knew of the name. Less than two weeks later Desiigner ended up getting signed to Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music label. Desiigner was even featured on Kanye's newest album, The Life Of Pablo.
The tale of Taxstone's success is one people dream about. Since the show's start Taxstone has averaged over 100,000 listeners a week. Some of his guests have included big name celebrities, and he has even been seeing hanging out with Jay Z. But where the show thrives is Taxstone's ability to pick guests who may not be as popular in the mainstream yet have great stories to tell. Two excellent episodes were ones where Taxstone interviewed former drug dealing kingpin Pee Wee Kirkland, and the famous lawyer Kenneth Montgomery episode. Each was nothing less than epic.
Of course there are times where Taxstone says things that are controversial. He has had a few times where he pushed the boundaries of what is okay to talk about. But without these instances Taxstone would not be who he is, which is something he unapologetically does.
In the short time of less than a year Taxstone has become a role model to people from neighborhoods like his. He is someone people can look at and relate to. Nothing about him is Hollywood or too good for you. He spends time interacting with all his fans on Twitter even if they have something negative to say. In his mind he just sees them as people with opinions.
Since the start of the show Taxstone has been venturing off into other things as well. He turned his Internet relevance into many streams of revenue. Taxstone is a regular on MTV2's Uncommon Sense, and is now a music-marketing consultant. There were some other business ventures he also spoke about that he asked me not to mention. But it is safe to say he is keeping himself busy.
The Internet is a beautiful thing. It removed gatekeepers, and gave people the opportunity to start getting paid to be their authentic selves. Successes like Taxstone's would be much tougher without it. We could all take a lesson from Taxstone in perseverance and being true to ourselves. He was born in a place where people are set up to fail, but succeeded anyway. We live in a society where everyone is scared to speak his or her minds, and he used that to his advantage. Taxstone is not just a model of success to people from neighborhoods like his, but one that everyone could learn from. There's a common saying that goes there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes. But the revised version is actually the only two certainties in life are death and Tax Season.